Night after night I lay awake, long after the light of day has settled beyond the horizon. The struggle that ensues is one all too familiar. It has been mine long before I possessed the words. It has been mine long before one should possess it, or rather before it should possess someone.
It never seemed to have a beginning, it just seemed to possess me from my earliest memory. It left me to wonder about the world in darkness. When the world slumbered, I wandered. It gave me an eerie peace. It scared me in a way that brought me comfort. It gave me time with my father as he stumbled in late into the night. It gave me the slurred words of a man too “tired” for the daylight. It gave me comfort when I feared my own demise at the hands of with whose care I was vested.
It was there that I lived among the green-eyed devils. It was there when we confronted evil as it slept. It was there as I studied, as I sought to understand the world, the people within it, and myself. It has been there as I have held fast along the thin blue line.
It has been a possession of comfort, care, and protection. It has left me wide-eyed as the world has slumbered, but its possession is not without cost. It leaves my mind wandering, darting from one thought or memory to another. It ponders past and present. It considers every angle and every possible outcome. It weighs social and tactical. It can reflect upon or create simple social interactions just as readily as it does violent events. It considers a shooter at the grocery store as readily as it does the dinner conversation with my wife.
Left to its own devices, its possession leaves me chasing after scattered thoughts, like birdshot as it spreads with time. It is tamed only through rhythmic beats and captivating lyrics. They trap the thoughts between each earbud. They force the possession into a line of singular thoughts like a precision round spiraling towards its target. The thoughts are just as visceral and eclectic, but they arrive one at a time. They can be mundane, lulling the possession to sleep, or they can be violent and chaotic. It could force the brain to consider option after option, the symptoms of an obsessive brain that must consume knowledge. It has also brought thoughts that flow from a place I cannot explain. These very words typed out on a screen at 1 am without forethought. The hands begin to type as if the possession of insomnia were seeking to communicate through a modern-day wedgie board.
Insomnia’s possession upon my life is one I have never sought to exorcise. It is a demon of both destruction and peace. It is Ying and Yang. Good and evil. It is nothing more or less than my own mind, my own being… me. It is nothing but a looking glass upon my soul.
Jake Smith is a law enforcement officer and former Army Ranger with four deployments to Afghanistan.
As the Voice of the Veteran Community, The Havok Journal seeks to publish a variety of perspectives on a number of sensitive subjects. Unless specifically noted otherwise, nothing we publish is an official point of view of The Havok Journal or any part of the U.S. government.